The New Yorker reviewed a new book this week that should be of interest to a large number of A.V. Clubbers: Koji Kondo’s Super Mario Bros. Soundtrack argues that video game soundtracks changed not only the way we play and experience video games, but also the entire landscape of popular music. Super Mario Bros.’ music was developed in tandem with the game, resulting in a sensory experience unlike many of its predecessors:
[Kondo] ultimately decided that the music would ideally emphasize “the experience that the player is having,” underscoring the player’s sense of participation and interaction, the thrill of spending hundreds of hours of life perfecting hand-eye coördination. As a result, Kondo built moments of tension and catharsis into Super Mario, conceptualizing the various “scenes” and stage motifs as moments drawn from a single, coherent score. There were moments of buoyant, finger-popping swagger, fun-house psychedelia, a waltz along the ocean floor. He experimented with tempo, always returning to the main theme, sometimes with the hyperactive intensity of an overzealous soloist (“Hurry!”), other times with an ominous dirge (“Game Over”).
The entire New Yorker article is worth a read, and the book sounds like a fascinating treatment of the sometimes-surprising overlap between music and games.